In their work to research and share the history of Michigan State University’s campus, members of the university’s Campus Archaeology Program also have uncovered some mysterious happenings.
CAP — one of only a few programs in the world to provide hands-on training in heritage management on a university campus — has partnered with the MSU Paranormal Society to offer a haunted campus tour. This year’s Apparitions and Archaeology tour is available virtually and offers participants an opportunity to explore both history and hauntings of eight different campus stops. They will also host a Facebook live event at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 and invite questions from the audience. Scroll to explore some of MSU’s most legendary spaces.
Could it be students from yesteryear passing by the former College Hall? Reports persist of phantom couples in old-fashioned dress, holding hands and walking along the walkways of Beaumont Tower on foggy mornings. Other apparitions include a man in tails and a stovepipe hat wandering around the tower.
Built in 1856 on the site where Beaumont Tower now stands, College Hall was the first structure in the United States dedicated to scientific agriculture. In 1918, a portion of the building collapsed. A few months later, an artillery garage was built on its foundation. Beaumont Tower was built in 1928 as a memorial.
Studying to the point of delirium or spirits lurking? For years, students working in the basement labs after hours reported strange noises and sounds of people walking around on the first and second floors. In the 1980s, a custodian described an encounter she had with a man she called Mr. Dirk. Former museum curator Dirk Gringhuis passed away in 1974.
The MSU Museum stands where Williams Hall, the second campus dormitory, once stood. Built in 1869, Williams Hall burned down in 1919. The museum was completed in 1925 and housed some of the archaeology offices and labs.
For years, students dressed in 19th-century clothing have been seen wandering through the area east of the MSU Museum—where Saints’ Rest once stood. Another ghostly figure wearing overalls and work boots has been spotted, suggesting the spirit of a maintenance worker lingers nearby.
Saints’ Rest, the first dormitory on campus, burned to the ground in 1876. More than 100 years later, the campus archaeology team unearthed the foundation, the basement, the likely cause of the blaze and a curious artifact known as Mabel, a porcelain doll that is believed to possess an ominous spirit known for moving objects out of place.
The most infamous story is that of Mary Mayo herself, who can be seen wandering the hallways and playing the piano in the "Red Room," rumored to have been used for satanic rituals and where a young woman may have died. The entire floor is now closed, but unexplained lights and figures often are seen through the windows of the 4th floor.
Mary Mayo advocated for a stronger women's curriculum and a women’s dormitory on campus. Her persistence became a reality when the first women's course was established in 1896. Her namesake dormitory was constructed in 1931, along with surrounding residences named after prominent women in MSU history.
Screams coming from the garden in the middle of the night have been reported. Shadowy figures in the distance and a male apparition dressed in clothes from the 1920s also have been seen. Could it be Professor Beal checking on his seed experiment?
Beal Botanical Garden holds the world record for the longest continually monitored scientific study. Professor William Beal buried 20 bottles of seeds mixed with sand in 1879. One bottle is to be dug up every few years and tested to see how many seeds sprouted. The next bottle is due to be excavated in 2020.